Al-Hasan al-Wazzan--born in Granada to a Muslim family that in 1492 went to Morocco--became famous as the great Renaissance writer Leo Africanus, author of the first geography of Africa to be published in Europe (in 1550). He had been captured by Christian pirates in the Mediterranean and imprisoned by the Pope; when he was released and baptized, he lived a European life of scholarship as the Christian writer Giovanni Leone; by 1527, it is likely that he returned to North Africa and to the language, culture, and faith in which he had been raised. Natalie Zemon Davis offers a virtuoso study of the fragmentary, partial, and often contradictory traces that al-Hasan al-Wazzan left behind him, and a superb interpretation of his extraordinary life and work.
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